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It was the best possible scenario: One group of teens who had never met, and a group of other young people who were introduced by strangers on the internet. They walked down the street together. They hung out, laughed, and smoked cigarettes together.
It all went down on Friday.
The two groups — both comprised of middle-aged white males — encountered each other the night before during a group trip to a bar. They were at the bar, trying to make new friends, when they encountered the other side of the internet. These boys and girls wanted to be friends, but they didn’t know the people they were meeting on the social networking site.
But that wasn’t the point. The teenagers wanted to find out what it was like to hang out with the people they were friends with, and make new friends.
What they didn’t quite understand, however, was that what they saw on Facebook meant almost everything to Facebook. They didn’t understand why their own friends, friends they’d never met, were sharing their photos with thousands of their other friends. Facebook knew better than they. They knew how to exploit their users. To make their users feel important, they’d take a picture of one person. They’d post it on their friends’ walls for them to see.
It was on this day, on Friday, that Facebook’s algorithm decided to go crazy and create a Facebook group in the middle of the night.
It was just one of a number of factors that led to the rise of a powerful algorithm that decided what mattered about you as a user. That algorithm, according to reports, also picked up upon another factor, the popularity of a given individual’s profile picture. On Facebook, the algorithm picks up upon the “likethrough” filter. It uses this filter to determine what an individual is looking at online.
This algorithm — or Facebook’s algorithm — is an extension of a decades-old phenomenon called “user-generated content,” or UGC. When a user creates a “liked” status on their profile, the system takes note of the photo attached. Then, the algorithm looks at the post’s content and picks which pictures to show.
For many, the UGC that creates this massive profile picture is the algorithm that “likes” your comments on your posts. If someone posts a
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